My younger daughter made the transition to middle school this year. After five years in elementary school and a year of homeschool, she walked into the doors of our local middle school.
She's made the transition remarkably well. She's had the usual middle school issues of finding her classes and dealing with a finicky locker, but she's been mostly organized and managed her assignments well. Until yesterday.
Last night, she discovered she did not know where her social studies homework was. Hopefully, it's in her locker. If it's not, she'll have to take the late work penalty.
I have to admit that I was frustrated with her. Late work in the first couple weeks of school is not a good way to make an impression on your teacher. I really wanted to lecture and let her know how frustrated I was.
But then I remembered yesterday's blog post. I remembered that this is a huge transition for my daughter. I remembered that she had traveled all weekend to play in a hockey tournament. I remembered that we all make mistakes. And I remembered that sometimes making a mistake is the best way to learn.
You see, this is my daughter who when she was little had to touch the hot pan to believe that it was hot. This is my daughter who has always taken the hard way. This is my daughter who needs the pain of the consequences to appreciate the magnitude of the mistake.
So instead of lecturing last night, I helped her problem solve. We tried to find the worksheet in the online system the school has for assignments. Not there. We tried calling some friends she has in the class to get the questions. No one home. We tried emailing her teacher. No response.
I sent a very frustrated young lady to bed knowing that she would have to take the point deduction for late work. But, you know what? I bet tonight she comes home with all her homework. I bet that she's super careful about writing down her homework and making sure it's in her binder in the future.
Because this one experience has taught her more than all the lecturing in the world could teach her. Offering grace from the parent point of view, offering a hug and encouragement, instead of heaping lectures on top of her already hurting heart didn't take away the consequences of her mistake. That grace, though, gave her the courage to get out of the car this morning and head into the school to face her mistakes.
Because grace doesn't wipe out our mistakes. It doesn't do away with the earthly consequences. But grace and love on the magnitude that God provides, gives us the strength to get up in the morning and face the day. When we pour just a small portion of that grace out onto our kids, it does the same for them. They get bolstered not just by God's grace but by God's grace given through their parents. And sometimes that's all they need to have the courage to put one foot in front of the other.
So, the next time our kids make a mistake, we need to let experience be their teacher and let grace be their strength.